Overcoming the obscene

The eight Hivos Tiger Award Nominees had their own special day at the festival. Our Young Film Critics, Archana Nathan, Taylor Hess, Martin Kudlaç and Rowan El Shimi, saw the nominees and wrote reviews on all of them.

Prabda Yoon is a novelist, editor, publicist, painter, musician, graphic designer and, following the IFFR 2016 selection of Motel Mist, breakout feature filmmaker. His debut film, set in Bangkok, is the only Asian film in competition for the IFFR Hivos Tiger Award. 

By IFFR Young Film Critic Taylor Hess

Motel Mist follows three intersecting stories in three separate rooms at a Bangkok love motel called Motel Mistress. A sex-crazed pervert, obsessed with dildos and assaulting young women, occupies society's dark and twisted underbelly in room 7. In room 5, there is a former child-star and rumoured schizophrenic, whose recent disappearance has sparked public hysteria. And a morally corrupt, alarmingly apathetic motel employee camps out in stereotype seedy motel room number 6. The three stories unfold simultaneously, unearthing human monstrosity at its darkest, captured by textured visual and musical composition at its finest. If you’re in any doubt that a film centered around the most horrific sex circus imaginable isn’t for you, doubt again. Bangkok-based Yoon provides a controlled and structured environment to test the limits of uncontrollable human behavior.

Liberal filmmaker

"The film is actually not that controversial," said the writer/director several hours ahead of his world premiere. "That the story takes place at a love motel is controversial because people don't talk about these spaces in public, even though they exist everywhere." The roadside motels to which Yoon is referring are inconspicuous sex venues scattered throughout Bangkok’s metropolitan area. The 'love motel' construction is really just a building located off a parking lot, with curtained off 'rooms' for easy access, and more importantly, anonymity. Yoon describes the film’s disturbing scenes of sexual violence and assault as provocative, but explains that, "however surreal the visuals of the film feel, the current situation in Thailand is even more surreal." The social climate and political unrest that Thailand is currently experiencing has generated global attention in recent months, and has put liberal filmmakers and artists, like Yoon, at risk of government scrutiny. "If you are a liberal in Thailand, you are against the norm, a threat to national security even," Yoon says.